GPRS Higher Education Marketing Agency


GPRS Higher Education Marketing Agency

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Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | October 30th, 2020

How do you pivot your branding and marketing when your programs have changed?

How do you pivot your branding and marketing when your programs have changed?By now, it is likely that your school has a statement on its homepage following all of the changes COVID-19 has created in the higher education space. However, if the plan only goes so far as detailing what the overall university is doing, you may need to take it a step further to communicate how your individual programs will operate within your business school.

While you have made efforts to maintain your brand, even during a time of great adversity, functional elements of how you offer programs, what it feels like to be part of a cohort and the physical space where students are learning may be greatly altered. Communication is key to creating and maintaining your relationships with leads, prospects and applicants during this time and there are a few things you can do to encourage them to begin and follow through with the enrollment process.

So many changes

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing the cascade of questions that are currently facing programs:

  • International travel – From an MBA that offers spring break immersions to a Global Executive MBA program that involves travel to multiple continents, the landscape will look different this year.
  • Class delivery – Whether you’re offering in-person, virtual or hybrid approaches, the student experience will be altered.
  • Internships and recruiting – With many large companies working from home and limiting travel, internships may be tricky to manage.
  • Admissions events – Although in-person meetings, campus tours and preview days — all key components to recruiting — may be on hold, you may need to find creative ways to give prospects a view into campus life.
  • Admissions testing – Stay consistent and explain your reasoning for any alteration in admissions testing requirements.

Although it is easy to get overwhelmed with the logistics, it’s important to remember that your prospects definitely have the same questions and may be intimidated to start the application process before they know all the details. Don’t let ambiguity be a barrier for your prospects.

Where you can make a difference

Plans are changing often — are your communications? Here are some ways to ensure students have the information they need to make key decisions. By implementing some of these tactics, you can maintain your relationships with your prospects. You may even have the opportunity to gain students from different geographic locations, demographics and backgrounds.

  • Your website: Although you don’t need to alter your entire website (and this is not recommended due to the amount of time it would take), you can create banner statements on each program page that ensure your prospects that you have a plan. End with a call to action to schedule a casual conversation or attend a webinar.
  • Your events: Host webinars or town hall-style virtual chats where your admissions staff can address questions. You don’t have to have all the answers — just showing transparency and a willingness to engage while you’re working through the details can go a long way. Podcasts can also be a good way to personally communicate with prospects where they are.
  • Your digital ads: Don’t be afraid to address the elephant in the room. Try creating a digital campaign that offers details about altered course delivery, how you’ll maintain the student experience and ways you’re striving to keep everyone safe and healthy.
  • Your mobile strategy: Find ways that you can optimize your marketing budget with cost-effective solutions that target your prospects directly on their mobile devices.
  • Your keywords: Now’s a great time to write blogs that add keyword-rich and searchable content to your website. Employ admissions staff, student ambassadors and alumni to write about the changes that are happening. This organic content, especially as it is related to COVID-19, will boost your searchability that can lead to increased traffic.

It’s important to remember that you are currently marketing and recruiting in an ever-changing environment. The challenges the higher education market is facing are unprecedented. But quickly pivoting (and continuing to do so) will pay off as you seek to instill confidence in your prospects.

Need help?

If you need help with website alterations, promoting virtual events, altering your advertising campaign or writing keyword-rich content that can increase your leads and enrollment, GPRS can offer solutions.


Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | October 15th, 2020

Finding ways to evaluate last year’s marketing effectiveness

Finding ways to evaluate last year’s marketing effectivenessHow do you evaluate marketing effectiveness and enrollment in a year where benchmarks are out the window?

Before you begin planning for the upcoming recruiting year, you may be staring down the seemingly impossible task of evaluating last year’s enrollment goals and marketing plan effectiveness.

The 2019-2020 cycle may seem like a blur as you tackle questions about spending, engagement, quality leads, yield, cost-per-seated student and enrollment goals. How do you determine what worked and what didn’t in a year where everything turned upside down?

Here are a few ideas on where to start.

Break the year into segments

For this exercise, we will focus on a recruiting year that runs August-July. Feel free to adjust based on your start date, or if you have additional cohorts.

Consider for a moment, that there were approximately eight months (August – March) that were—for all intents and purposes—“normal.” If you are benchmarking YOY data on spending and leads, breaking the year up this way will help you apply a lens for comparison. Using your CRM, you can also match up leads from that period to enrollments and determine a cost-per-seated student.

For the four months that followed (April – July), benchmarks were sidelined in favor of adjusted enrollment goals, spending reallocations and altered recruiting strategies. Now is a good time to revisit those adjustments and plans you made to see if you reached any of those goals. Realize that goals were a moving target and celebrate even small victories or accomplishments.

Evaluate how you pivoted, throw out the benchmarks

This past year was a time of uncertainty and adjustment. You were forced to alter your plans in ways you’ve never been asked to do, during your key recruiting period. On the road events? Cancelled. Campus tours, preview days and interviews? Moved online. Digital advertising strategy designed to bring in leads? Halted or altered.

When you look back on the ways you pivoted your marketing and recruitment strategy at warp speed, were you moving so fast that you forgot to keep track?

Now is a great time to jot down these alterations so you can chart your successes and incorporate them into planning for the upcoming year.

  • What platforms worked best for virtual events?
  • What social content got the highest engagement?
  • What types of events had the most attendees?
  • What did yield look like?
  • What were the best ways to personally connect with prospective students?
  • What did your website traffic look like (both YOY and pre-COVID to post)?

Jogging your memory now and keeping track of the things you changed can help you track your successes and incorporate them into the upcoming year.

Look at the final results in context and celebrate successes

Often, marketing and recruiting success is evaluated in black and white terms: Did you meet your enrollment goals? What was your cost-per-seated student? How did digital advertising fare in terms of CPL?

Although using a tracking method to evaluate these benchmarks at key points during the year can certainly give you a window into how well your plan worked, it’s also important to look at the results in context.

And in terms of planning for the future, this may be the time to create new benchmarks that are adjustable to the market and your prospective students’ needs.

Need help?

Navigating the evaluation process and planning upcoming recruiting cycle will be challenging this year. If you need help charting your successes and creating a realistic recruiting plan that can help you gain more quality leads and seated students next year, GPRS can help.



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For over two decades, GPRS has been a trusted higher education marketing agency, offering custom solutions to institutions of all sizes and degree types. Admissions directors, marketing directors, deans, and presidents rely on GPRS to provide a depth of services, including strategy, lead generation, digital marketing, nurture communications, recruiting, and analytics.

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